Here’s a draft of a theme that has been developing as I work through my final project for my MS in the Environmental Humanities program at the University of Utah.
At the edge of the firs he became a mirror through inheritance. He stands on the edge of the Red Rock Lakes now just as he stood 200 million years ago when the limestone solidified and began rising out of the valley behind him. He waited there in darkness, not unworried, but staring intently at the possibility that the sun will never rise again.
Finally, the cormorants, gulls, and ibis pierced the darkness and found pressed between darkness and darkness, the greens and blues of the valley, killdeer nesting in there on the sun. Killdeer woke and dragged the sun out between bullrushes until it fell off the shore into the water where it perched on the edge of the lake burning the smoke off the water until there was sky enough to navigate. The red found the peaks at the end of the valley while constant witness preened in ferrous mud. Her primordial call fell on allosaurus ears, alligator ears, short-faced bear ears, north american cheetah ears, red-tailed hawk ears, and my ears. A black crowned night heron spread its wings, flapped heavily and peering up into new space, pushed off the small island, rose between bunches of willows and closed the distance between the black virgas and the edge of bald mountain. Constant witness’s yellow, diamond eye saw this where she lay in the grass waiting for her mother to return.
Constant witness stood at the entrance to the bear’s den, waiting for her to wake. She stood there throughout the summer, waiting for her to return. She saw descendants of descendants return larger than they left. She drooped heavily in the snow, passing and receiving information through fungus, roots, and darkness below. Over the Gros Ventres, across the Snake River, and into the Centennial Valley, constant witness walked for thousands of years. A highway sprung up from the meadow and he was lost, but he called the highway so. A fence sprung up
from the hillside and he was lost, but he called the fence so. A thumping, whooshing sound emanated from the ground where once there was none and he was lost, but he called that sound so. A light bore down on him where he once slept and he was lost but he called that light so.
Ash coated the paintbrush, goldenrod, and asters and constant witness found no color or scent to guide her. She zigzagged above gray earth, between gray trees, under a gray sky. Skunk cabbage was one of the first to place green against the gray again, and constant witness was there to see it. Then squirrel tail grasses emerged, and aspens began to replace the lodgepole.